Novartis is soliciting proposals from patient advocacy organizations for initiatives designed to expand and improve understanding of biomarker testing among people with cancer that are based on the pharma giant’s Solutions to Empower Patients (STEP) Program. [Ridofranz / Getty Images]

Novartis is soliciting proposals from patient advocacy organizations for initiatives designed to expand and improve understanding of biomarker testing among people with cancer that are based on the pharma giant’s Solutions to Empower Patients (STEP) Program.

The STEP Program will fund up to four patient advocacy organizations as much as $75,000 each, with the aim of helping them address education, access, and reimbursement challenges like those that have hindered the development and use of biomarker testing in personalized medicine, Novartis said.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 on November 4, 2019.

“By supporting patient advocacy organizations that empower patients and their care teams to make informed decisions about their health, the STEP Program can help create a path to better care,” Ameet Mallik, Executive Vice President and Head, US, Novartis Oncology, said in a statement.

Created in 2017, the STEP Program has helped fund the patient-focused initiatives of eight organizations nationwide. The STEP program funded three organizations in 2017 and five last year.

Novartis says it created the STEP Program with the intent of supporting U.S.-based nonprofit organizations as they work to address some key challenges in healthcare. Any national, US-based, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization is invited to submit a STEP Program proposal that focuses on at least one of the following criteria in cancer biomarker testing: Awareness and Education, Self-Advocacy, and/or Policy Improvement.

Proposals will be evaluated by an external review committee consisting of experts in a variety of fields. The committee will review the applications and identify as many as four proposals deemed to have the potential to make the greatest positive impact on the cancer community, Novartis said.

All organizations will be notified of the review committee’s decision by or before January 31, 2020.

Novartis said organizations interested in details on how to submit proposals, or which want to learn more about the STEP program, should visit the STEP Program page on the company’s U.S. website.

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